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Using digital cameras for multidimensional learning in K-12 classrooms.

Digital cameras are educational tools that support purposeful instruction with a clear vision on curriculum, instruction, assessment, and reflection. This article explains the impact of digital cameras in today's classrooms, indicates effective usage of digital cameras, and relates how multidimensional learning can be provided for students by using digital cameras.


As classrooms continue to be infused with various forms of technology, teachers need to recognize the role digital cameras play in student performance and the multiple dimensions this instructional tool does to enrich learning. According to Education World (2005, p. 1), "teachers across the country and around the world are discovering the many valuable uses for digital cameras; uses that both engage students and make their own professional lives easier." Further, "students embrace the creativity and assessment opportunities that digital photos offer" (Lindroth, 2004, p. 22). Therefore, it is astute of teachers to maximize and have digital cameras integrated in the classrooms for students to increase their learning and achievement.

This article: (1) explains the impact of digital cameras in today's classrooms, (2) indicates effective usage of digital cameras, and (3) relates how multidimensional learning can be provided for students by using digital cameras.

Impact of Digital Cameras

As stated by Rivard (2004, p. 55) "digital cameras have become the hottest tech trend in K-12 districts today." This is attributed to students being more visual because of their familiarity with video games, computers, and movies.

Since individuals are "intensely visual" (Wolfe, 2001, p. 152), the researcher notes that more details and data are obtained visually than any of the other senses. In essence, she emphasizes "a picture is worth at least 10,000 words" (p. 152). This is of particular importance since usage of images is more prevalent in our society. Teachers need to adapt their instructional methods to enhance the visual literacy abilities of students while enabling learners to develop higher level thinking processes (Cooper, 2003; Wilhelm, 2005).

Further, Roblyer and Edwards (2000) explain that visual literacy skills will have even greater demands for students entering the workforce as modern society advances. Then, from an instructional stance, digital cameras have value and do have a positive impact on learning.

Effective Usage of Digital Cameras

Consider the usage of digital cameras to determine the extent of how the usage is aligned with the curriculum, one's teaching, and the classroom assessments. This consideration is important because of the recent emphasis on curriculum and state mandated tests. It is suggested that judgments be made about how well the digital camera usage matches these areas. It is recommended that digital usage match well with these areas because a strong alignment yields noted results.

Another consideration is that teachers abide by school district policy and make certain the available documentation is in place before allowing individuals to be photographed. Further, teachers should stress the importance of taking appropriate images. Establishing guidelines with students' input assists them in being selective about their photographs.

Rairigh and Kirby (2002, p. 36) point out teachers' responsibilities include: (a) providing the instructional tasks for the students' engagement, (b) providing an understanding and knowledge base for the use of digital cameras, (c) providing access and instructions to students for the handling and use of this technology, and (d) providing instruction and guidelines for using this technology to provide feedback.

Thus, it is critical that planning and time be spent discussing the basic photography guidelines. In regards to effective usage of digital photos, teachers and students must learn to be deliberate and resourceful when it comes to printing and using the images produced.

Multidimensional Learning

Multidimensional learning "integrates different memory strategies to facilitate the learning process and is heavily dependent on illustrations and graphics" (Abdelhamid, 2005, p. 1). This cognitive, psychology-based model is used in conjunction with technology-assisted instruction and requires students to integrate memory strategies while generating the information. Hence, digital cameras provide the illustrations and graphics to promote concept attainment and to stimulate the memory strategies. Regardless of the content area, digital imaging is a powerful teaching tool that supports the curriculum across all content areas.

It has been noted that digital imaging motivates students to write (Rivard, 2004). Knowing that digital photographs encourage students to want to write, students of all ages should be given the opportunities. When provided opportunities to write, students learn to develop his or her writing style. When students are encouraged to develop their own style, they are able to apply the process to other writing tasks. This motivates them to write for themselves--promoting enjoyment of writing throughout their lives. Further, writing is important because it allows students to organize their thought processes while increasing their vocabulary. Writing is imperative for students to learn, enhance, and apply in the K- 12 classrooms. Digital camera usage encourages students to write.

It is particularly noteworthy that when students take the photographs, ownership is promoted. When students see the photographs they took, concepts are clarified and attained. While doing her student teaching, Kerri Peloso had second grade students at Nescopeck Elementary School (Nescopeck, Pennsylvania) take pictures of objects in the classroom.

They used their pictures to create writing pieces that were showcased in the room. A compilation of the pictures was made and this became a classroom book that was checked out by students to take home to develop/increase their literacy skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and spelling.

Digital camera usage increases analytical skills and can be used as a means of assessing student performance. Having students know what high quality performance is can effectively be documented through photographs. When students recognize similarities and differences of their performance through photos, students become more reflective and effective with self-assessment. This process increases better performance.


It is recognized that digital cameras have a definite impact in today's classrooms. With effective usage, multidimensional learning opportunities occur for students.

Evelyn Woldman of the Massachusetts Elementary School Principal Association emphatically states, "I think the only obstacle to using a digital camera is not having it" (Rivard, 2004, p. 56). It must be further recognized that digital cameras are more than just taking photographs. Digital cameras must be used as an educational tool that supports purposeful and meaningful instruction with a clear vision on curriculum, instruction, assessment, and reflection.


Abdelhamid, T. (1999). The multidimensional learning model: Anovel cognitive psychology-based model for computer assisted instruction in order to improve learning in medical students. Medical Education Online, 4, 1-8.

Berson, M. J. (2004). Digital images: Capturing America's past with the technology of today. Social Education, 68(3), 214-219.

Blagojevic, B. & Garthwait, A. (2001). Observing & recording growth & change: Using technology as an assessment tool. Early Childhood Today, 15(8), 36-44.

Cavanaugh, T. & Cavanaugh, C. (1997). Educational applications for digital cameras. Technology Connection, 4(6), 22-25.

Cooper, J. (2003). Classroom teaching skills. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Covington, G. (1999). Faces Isee: Digital photography, a tool for sight. Technos: Quarterly for Education and Technology, Summer 1999, 1-5. Retrieved on August 31, 2005, from http://www. ai_65014470/print

Finkenberg, M. (2001). Using digital cameras to assess motor learning. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 72(8), 13-18.

Harmon, C. (2000). Using digital cameras. Media and Methods, 36(3), 27.

Hillman, R. (2000). Digital images/picture symbols: Using them with children with disabilities. Multimedia Schools, 7(4), 78-81.

Iacchis, F. (2005). Digital storytelling. Teaching PreK-8, 35(6), 52-54.

Knuttle, K. (1998). Digital camera use in the classroom. Media & Methods, 34(5), 58-60.

Lindroth, L. (2004). How to: Use digital images and video. Teaching PreK-8, 35(2), 22-24.

Rairigh, M. & Kirby, K. (2002). A picture is worth a thousand words: Providing feedback through digital image technology. Teaching Elementary Physical Education, 13(5), 36-37.

Riner, P. (2005). Digital photography in an inner-city fifth grade. Technology, 86(8), 567, 630, & 635.

Rivard, N. (2004). Freeze frame affordable and easy to use, digital cameras are helping educators boost curriculum. District Administration, 40(3), 55-56 and 65.

Roblyer, M. & Edwards, J. (2000). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Schroeder, L. (2002). Calendar connections: A school-based business enterprise--on the art career track. Arts & Activities, 1-3. Retrieved on June 13, 2005, from http://www. ai_104835778/print

Starr, L. (2004). Smile! Digital cameras can make your day. Education World, 2004, 1-4. Retrieved on June 13, 2005, from http://www.

Wilhelm, L. (2005). Increasing visual literacy skills with digital imagery. The Journal Online. 1-7. Retrieved June 21, 2005, from http://www. the

Wolfe, P. (2002). Brain matters. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Web Site Resources

Digital Cameras: http://webtech.kennesaw. edu/jcheek3/digitalcameras.htm

Digital Camera Web links: http://wneo. org/hotlists/digcam.htm

Digital Kids Club: education/digkids/intro/main.html

Digital Video Cameras: http://www.ncte. ie/ICTAdviceSupport/AdviceSheets/DigitalVideoCameras/

Discovery Education:

Education World:

Pegasus: qvuses.htm

Student Project Examples: http://www.

Teacher to Teacher: http://www.brunswick. html

The Digital Camera in Education: http://

Dr. Viola Supon, Professor, Bloomsburg University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Viola Supon at
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Author:Supon, Viola
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2006
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